It gives a reasonable overview of the gender issues in computer science education. The article talks about the drop in popularity of the old Advanced Placement AB course and its eventually being dropped as well as thoughts on how the current A course is pretty dry.
It made me think about the old vs new exams. The current APCS A exam is roughly analogous to a typical college 101 course: programming in one language and one paradigm. The old AB class represented a 101 and a 102 with the 102 being data structures and algorithms. Much more interesting for both guys and girls. Over the years, the AP A exam has become more and more vocational, at least in my opinion, and that makes matters worse. Its more and more about using the language and built in collections and less about thinking and problem solving. What’s fun about that?
Of course, we teach our version, a super-set, of the AB curriculum over the course of a school year.
Interesting that even though we teach that old school hardcore CS, we far exceed the national numbers in terms of gender balance, but more on that later.
I am so sick and tired of hearing that “xyz” person doesn’t have teaching experience, or is a “non-educator” and therefore can’t possibly have a worthwhile view on the education of our kids.
We are not applying for teaching jobs. We are not writing curriculum (standards are not curriculum). We do however, pay for education and that comes with the responsibility to ensure our money is spent effectively.
Every single person in this country helps to pay for education. Every single person has the right to question if their money is being spent properly, when the results they see are not ideal.
Related: A focus on adult employment.
In a classroom in Bronzeville, on Chicago’s South Side, eight students are locked in intense debate about Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. They’re tearing Kohlberg apart, with justification, as far as I can tell, but keeping up with fast-paced Socratic dialogue about complicated philosophy is not my strong suit. I’m visiting this college, Shimer, because something quite calamitous has just happened to it.
The communications officer, Isabella Winkler, gives me a tour. Which lasts about three minutes. Shimer is tiny. The entire college is squeezed onto two slightly disheveled floors rented from a more successful neighboring college – the Illinois Institute of Technology. There are no sports teams at Shimer, no sororities. This place will never get ranked America’s No1 party school (which is currently the University of Pennsylvania, according to Playboy). No: the list Shimer currently tops is a miserable one. The reason why I’m here is because it has just been ranked the No1 worst college in America.
So what’s it like, this worst college? What criteria put it there? The compiler, Ben Miller, a former senior policy advisor in the Department of Education, explained in the Washington Monthly that they were looking for colleges that ‘charge students large amounts of money to receive an education so terrible that most drop out before graduation.’ Actually, Shimer topped a list that was adjusted for race and income. So a truer description is that it’s the worst college in America that doesn’t have many students of color or low-income students.
There’s a relatively new meme running through the edu-blogosphere that claims that the Common Core and its attendant standardized tests are built on the false premise that all kids should prepare for college and careers. For example, on Monday New Jersey blogger Marie Cornfield claimed that the “big, fat myth of standardized testing “was foisted upon the public with the sole goal of scamming money from school districts. She writes, “It’s not about developing a generation of super students or magically lifting every single child out of poverty. It’s all about money, and the money is the hostage.“
The result of this scam, says Cornfield, is that now “students are graduating college with Cadillac degrees only to find work in the Edsel factory. The CCSS and PARCC will not solve that problem, but they will make a boatload of money for the testing industry. And while college debt is at record highs, that debt, unlike corporate debt, isn’t erased in bankruptcy.” The aspirations underlying the Common Core — that students should graduate high school ready for college and careers — are both quixotic and cynical because “a large sector of the American work force is highly over educated and working in jobs that don’t require the education they earned, because those jobs do not exist.” (Emphasis her own.)
University of Iowa (UI) students, faculty, and administrators are speaking out in support of the censorship of a statue created and displayed on campus by visiting professor Serhat Tanyolacar that they say constitutes “hate speech.” Tanyolacar’s piece comprised a seven foot tall sculpture of a Ku Klux Klan member whose robes are crafted from newspaper articles about racial violence. Many members of the UI community, however, ignored the intended anti-racist message of the piece and instead demanded that the university take action against what they perceive as a racist display—and the university is complying.
Tanyolacar erected the statue last week on an area of campus called the Pentacrest with hopes to “facilitate a dialogue with a community on a college campus,” responding to the controversy over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. But students judged the piece to be racist and offensive, and within hours, university police instructed Tanyolacar to take his piece down.
State governments are arguably the most powerful authority over the teaching profession. Since 2007, NCTQ has tracked and analyzed teacher policies across all 50 states and the District of Columbia in our State Teacher Policy Yearbook. The Yearbook presents the most detailed analysis available of each state’s performance against, and progress toward, a set of specific, research-based teacher policy goals aimed at helping states build a comprehensive policy framework in support of teacher effectiveness.
The 19-page report from Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Revenue Secretary Rick Chandler comes after more than a year of study. It identifies property taxes as the top concern raised at 22 tax reform roundtables held across the state with some 500 people, but does not contain suggestions for lowering them.
“Taxes are too high and too complicated,” the report concludes. “They hinder economic growth, discourage job creation, and burden family budgets. And though we’ve made great progress in the last four years, we still have a long way to go.”
Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance president Todd Berry, who wasn’t involved in the roundtables or consulted about the report, said he was surprised there were no recommendations.
“They certainly lay out the case that the governor made when he was running four years ago,” Berry said. “But there’s no fundamental comprehensive tax reform here.”
Related: Ongoing increases in Madison’s property taxes. “Delinquencies higher than we expect”. Madison schools raise taxes 4.2%.
How many good and outstanding schools are there in England? Record levels, never been so many before. That’s the official verdict of the education watchdog Ofsted.
“The proportion of schools judged good or outstanding at their most recent inspection reached 81%.
“This is the highest proportion of good or outstanding schools there has ever been.”
But what does this 81% figure really mean? Do parents really have more than a four in five chance of getting a good or outstanding school for their children? And how has it risen so rapidly? Or is this the inspection equivalent of grade inflation?
“Outstanding” and “good” are the top two inspection grades – with “requires improvement” and “inadequate” the bottom two.
Wisconsin’s example: The WKCE disaster.
President Barack Obama sat down Monday to write a few lines of computer code with middle school students from Newark, N.J., for a PR campaign that has earned bipartisan endorsements from around the Capitol.
The $30 million campaign to promote computer science education has been financed by the tech industry, led by Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, with corporate contributions from Microsoft, Google, Amazon and other giants. It’s been a smash success: So many students opened up a free coding tutorial on Monday that the host website crashed.
The government is to set up a College of Teaching, to drive up standards and put teaching on an equal footing with high-status professions like medicine and law, the Guardian has learned.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan and schools minister David Laws, writing in the Guardian on Tuesday, say a professional body will allow teachers to set their own standards for members and to take a lead in improving the profession’s skills and abilities.
“Many in the profession have talked of the need for a College of Teaching over the years. Yet such a professional body still does not exist.
Google has spent the past decade-and-a-half perfecting the science of recognizing patterns in the chaos of information on the web. Now it’s applying that expertise to searching for clues to the genetic causes of autism in the vast sea of data contained in the human genome.
On Tuesday, autism advocacy group Autism Speaks said it was partnering with Google to sequence the genomes of 10,000 people on the autism spectrum along with their family members. Google will host and index the data for qualified researchers to sift as they hunt for variations in DNA that could hint at autism’s genetic origins.
“We believe that the clues to understanding autism lie in that genome,” Rob Ring, Autism Speaks’ chief science officer, told WIRED. “We’d like to leverage the same kind of technology and approach to searching the internet every day to search into the genome for these missing answers.”
The focus of the meeting was improving education in the United States. Participants had the opportunity to attend break-out sessions and learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing education in the U.S. A variety of viewpoints were expressed; some presenters/attenders favor the Common Core standards and approach, while other presenters/participants strongly oppose this approach. I found the conference to be very informative. I left the meetings maintaining a strong resolve that states control education within their borders, and that educational standards, resources and funding must increase if we are serious about improving education.
I also believe that charter schools and other alternative approaches to education merit consideration in certain circumstances. In addition, we need to promote and emphasize career, technical and vocational educational programs; every student is not going to attend college and our current system is generally not adequately preparing students who make up this category.
I spoke with several constituents, state legislators and University of Alabama System personnel about the decision by UAB’s administration to terminate its football program. If UAB is going to continue to emphasize and grow undergraduate programs and attract more resident students, I believe that athletic programs – especially football – are important to achieving this strategy. I wrote a letter to UAB President Dr. Ray Watts, urging him to work with the city of Birmingham, corporations and individuals in the metropolitan area to identify ways to financially support and continue the football program. I plan to continue to explore and better understand the issues surrounding Dr. Watts’ decision and recommendation.
Three dozen private-college presidents earned more than $1-million in 2012, with the typical leader making close to $400,000, a Chronicle analysis has found.
The millionaire club increased by one from the year before, and the median pay rose by 2.5 percent.
The highest-paid leader was Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Ms. Jackson, who has regularly ranked in the top 25, earned just over $7.1-million, up from nearly $1.1-million in 2011. A large portion of her 2012 earnings came from a payout of almost $5.9-million that had been set aside over 10 years as a retention incentive.
How do you spell illiterate?
A majority of students training at scores of New York colleges to become teachers flunked a literacy test they have to pass to be licensed, new figures show.
The state Board of Regents for the first time is requiring would-be teachers to pass the Academic Literacy Skills exam.
It measures whether a prospective teacher can understand and analyze reading material and also write competently. The results show many don’t belong anywhere near a classroom.
At Boricua College in The Bronx, 13 students took the literacy test. Not a single one passed.
At a half-dozen City University campuses, about half or more failed to make the grade.
Only 29 percent passed at York College in Queens, where there were 68 test takers.
Just one-third of the 21 test takers at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College passed.
The pass rate was only 41 percent at CUNY’s College of Technology in Brooklyn; 47 percent at Lehman College in The Bronx; 51 percent at City College; 54 percent at Brooklyn College and 55 percent at the College of Staten Island. CUNY vowed better results going forward.
Related: when a stands for average.
Kalamazoo County’s nine school districts are launching a new program in which students can earn a degree or certificate from Kalamazoo Valley Community College during a “13th grade” in high school.
Known as Early/Middle College, tuition and fees will be paid by school districts, which will collect the state’s per-pupil foundation allowance for those students, school superintendents told the Kalamazoo Gazette.
The Schoolcraft and Gull Lake school districts are piloting the program this school year. It is tentatively scheduled for implementation in fall 2015 at the other seven districts — Kalamazoo, Portage, Vicksburg, Comstock, Parchment, Galesburg-Augusta and Climax-Scotts — pending approval of the individual school boards, which is currently under way.
Following the most recent bargaining session last Thursday, the teachers’ union, UTLA, has reportedly rejected a pay increase offer from LA Unified negotiators that fell short its goal of a 10 percent salary increase.
The latest district offer included a 2 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, a 2 percent lump-sum payment based on 2013-14 earnings and a 2 percent one-time payment for the 2014-15 school year to be paid at the end of this school year, according to a district press release.
The offer was essentially a one-year deal on salary at the same rate the district is paying other labor partners, and the district asked UTLA to accept the deal immediately and agree to continue negotiating on non-salary issues and pay beyond the fiscal year, which ends July 1.
Aside from a salary increase, UTLA also is seeking a reduction in class size, an end to “teacher jail,” and other concessions. The union’s demands are outlined in the Schools LA Students Deserve campaign.
How many schools are involved?
A total of 159 as of this fall: 113 in Milwaukee serving 26,930 students, 15 in Racine serving 1,740 students, and 31 statewide serving 1,013 students. Almost all of them are religious. The majority are Catholic, Lutheran and Christian schools.
How much do the programs cost taxpayers?
About $211 million, according to state estimates for 2014-’15. The programs in Racine and statewide are fully funded by state funds. But Milwaukee is a different animal. The state only pays for about two-thirds of the cost of that program. The other third is paid, essentially, by local taxpayers.
What’s a voucher worth?
Participating private schools can receive a voucher worth up to $7,210 annually for each qualifying K-8 student. The voucher for qualifying high school students maxes out at $7,856 annually. Those amounts are an increase over the previous $6,442 maximum voucher payment per pupil.
What private schools have the most voucher students?
St. Anthony School in Milwaukee is No. 1, with 1,960 voucher students in K-12. An additional 15 students are not using vouchers, for a total enrollment of 1,975 this fall. That makes St. Anthony the largest K-12 Catholic school in the nation.
The estimated 60,000 young people who are held in juvenile justice centers must have the same opportunities for education as students in the nation’s regular public schools, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday as they announced new guidelines aimed at improving what a White House task force found was a low level of educational achievement in the detention facilities.
A report from the My Brother’s Keeper Task force in May found that only 6.6 percent of those in juvenile correctional facilities earned a GED or a high school diploma. The task force also found that only 47 percent of incarcerated youth earned any high school credits. The report called for facilities to provide academic and job-related instruction tailored to students needs’ and comparable in quality to what they’d get in public schools.
What teachers are paid matters. Many factors play a role in making the decision to become a teacher, but for many people compensation heavily influences the decision not only to enter the profession but also whether to stay in it and when to leave. For teachers, knowing where salaries start and end isn’t enough; they must also understand the path they will take from starting salary to the top of the scale.
Mary Burke, the incumbent Madison School Board member who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Scott Walker last month, confirmed Friday she will seek re-election in April. But Arlene Silveira, the longest serving board member and in her second stint as president, will not seek another term.
And Anna Moffit, who has served on the district’s special education advisory council, announced Saturday she’ll seek the seat currently held by Silveira. Silveira confirmed in a text message to the State Journal on Sunday that she will not run again.
Only Burke’s and Silveira’s seats are up in 2015. School board members are elected as at-large members.
Silveira was first elected in 2006 when Art Rainwater was superintendent and has since helped hire two superintendents as well as an interim leader.
She oversaw some of the most dramatic events in the district’s recent history, including in 2011 when Walker successfully sought to limit collective bargaining for public school teachers — a move that the Madison teachers union fought in court until this year when the state Supreme Court upheld the law.
The same year, the board faced another polarizing debate after the Urban League of Greater Madison’s then-executive director Kaleem Caire proposed a charter school aimed at reducing the persistently low achievement levels of the district’s black students. The board ended up voting against the proposal after months of tense discussion.
Notes and links on Mary Burke, Arlene Silveira and Anna Moffit.
But it’s another year in which enrollment in the main body of MPS schools shrank. That carries long-term implications.
Every year for at least the past half-dozen, the percentage of Milwaukee kids who are getting publicly funded kindergarten through 12th-grade education through MPS has gone down a percentage point or two from the prior year. This year, it went down more than two points.
I wrote a story for this newspaper about seven years ago with a premise that at the time was very striking to me: A third of all Milwaukee kids getting publicly funded educations were doing so outside of the conventional public schools.
It was such a change from days not long ago when the answer was always that publicly funded education meant you went to the public schools.
Now, instead of 33%, the figure is an even more eye-catching 43%. The official figures for this fall show 56.9% of the 120,895 publicly funded students were in schools staffed by MPS teachers.
You can see the day looming (maybe four years? maybe five?) when that percentage is 50% or less.
Where are all the other kids? I use the term publicly funded because Milwaukee remains one of the nation’s biggest arenas for options in schooling. Parents can utilize public support to send kids lots of places.
For over a decade, my job was to craft alternatives to incarceration for juvenile offenders. In the early 1990s, soon after I began this work, the juvenile crime rate soared and, along with it, a “tough on crime” increase in punishment for both the most severe and the most minor offenses. I remember visiting two clients who were cellmates: one was there for exchanging gunfire with a rival gang, and the other for a snowball fight on the school playground. Juvenile courts had always taken seriously children who wielded guns, and appropriately so. My caseload now included children who wielded snowballs, snatched Halloween candy, or got into shoving matches.
This same wide net of harsh punishment was cast in school discipline leading up to and in the wake of rare but widely reported school shootings—especially the horrifying Columbine High School incident. As with “tough on crime” laws, the new “zero tolerance” policies didn’t change how schools treated students who assaulted teachers or brought guns to school: they continued to get expelled and referred to law enforcement just as they always had. However, there was a sharp increase in the number of students caught in the highly discretionary zero tolerance zone, an unintended result of trying to prevent another Columbine. Unfortunately, these new policies have failed to show any corresponding increase in school safety.
• Parents are taking advantage of choice, but they want more good options.
Parents’ optimism about whether schools are improving varies widely.
Parents with less education, minority parents, and parents of children with special needs are more likely to report challenges navigating choice.
Some parents are forced to make difficult trade-offs between academics, safety, and location.
Some cities have done much more to support parent choice. Denver, New Orleans, and Washington, DC, have made the most progress on transportation, fair enrollment, and information systems. However, all cities have work to do to ensure choice works for all families. The authors recommend that civic leaders:
Expand the supply of high-quality schools.
Recognize that different families have different needs.
Guarantee free and safe passage to schools.
Invest much more heavily in information systems
This has been an extraordinary autumn for student organizing in the United States. From protests against police brutality and sexual assault to anti-tuition demonstrations and a new wave of campus occupations, students have been standing up and speaking out to a degree not seen since the heyday of Occupy.
The protests of the last three months haven’t just been big, they’ve been inventive and extraordinarily diverse, too. An undergrad at Columbia created a senior project carrying a mattress around campus to shame the administration for its failure to respond to her rape, and students across the country stepped up to help her carry the weight. The killings of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, and so many others have sparked sit-ins and die-ins, walkouts and speakouts. Administrators from New York to California have been forced to negotiate with and grant concessions to occupiers.
And perhaps most extraordinary has been the role of high school and middle school students. In dozens of incidents in dozens of states, such students have stood up and fought back against rape, violence, curricular meddling, and even infantilizing hall passes. They’ve been organizing and taking action, and they’ve been winning.
The cowardly California Democrats, fearing the retribution of the students and people of California, have announced a new plan to avoid fee hikes. But their plan proposes cutting scholarship programs for middle-class Californian students and raising tuition for out-of-state students by over $4,000. Let’s be clear about the strategy they’re employing: instead of imposing cuts on all students, the Democrats intend to attack certain constituencies, middle-class and out-of-state students, the classic imperial maneuver of “divide and conquer.” They want to divide us, leave us to fight over the scraps left by the state.
On Tuesday, state Democratic Party lawmakers presented their 2015 plan for higher education. The most publicized aspects of the plan are, first, that it would marginally increase state contributions to the UC and, second, that it would freeze undergraduate in-state tuition. An in-state tuition freeze would be be much better than Napolitano’s original proposal for 5% annual tuition hikes.
But there’s more to the Democrats’ plan: it would also eliminate a recently-established middle class scholarship program, would tie CSU student support to timely completion of degree, and would raise UC out-of-state and international students’ tuition by 17 percent, or approximately $4,000 dollars. These proposed out-of-state fee hikes would be more than three times those initially proposed by Napolitano, and would generate for the UC an estimated $82 million dollars of revenue next year.
There are a number of reasons to oppose this plan, particularly its reliance on a $4,000 dollar tuition hike for out-of-state and international students. First, from the perspective of those students directly affected, the hike would involve a financial shock, almost certain to be managed by many through the taking on of even more debt. Those opposed to skyrocketing student debt levels and to the privatization of the university thus have reason to oppose the Democrats’ plan to increase out-of-state and international students’ debt levels, and to keep UC reliant on tuition revenue rather than on public funds.
We found that parents in these ‘high-choice’ cities are aggressively taking advantage of school choice when it is available. In seven of the eight cities, half or more of parents are choosing a public school other than their assigned neighborhood school. Clearly, when parents get the opportunity to choose, they take advantage of it.
But we also found that parents have vastly different experiences when choosing a school for their child. And while some cities are improving parents’ ability to choose with confidence, we saw that each has work ahead to ensure that every parent can find the right school for their child.
As with nearly all public schools surveys, parents from all types of schools across all high-choice cities reported very high satisfaction with their current school. But when we pressed and asked whether parents had other good options, stark differences emerged. At the high end, 60 percent of Denver’s parents agreed they have other good public school options, but only 40 percent of Philadelphia’s parents felt this way.
Three cities—Denver, New Orleans, and D.C.—that have invested a lot on developing high-quality schools, closing low performers, and developing transportation, information, and common enrollment systems to help parents navigate their choices, saw some good results. More than half of all parents in these cities reported that their cities’ schools are getting better, compared to less than a third of parents in Baltimore, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. Parents were the least likely to report transportation as a barrier in New Orleans, the only city where most non-neighborhood-based public schools provide transportation. Eighty percent of parents in D.C., and 79 percent of parents in New Orleans reported prioritizing academics over safety and school location. In other cities, where not all families are able to enroll in safe and accessible schools, smaller proportions of parents reported choosing based on academics. Parents in these cities are likely making difficult trade-offs between academics, safety, and location.
As I’ve become more skilled with programming and electronics I have felt myself begin to near a wall. My knowledge of and skills in math is relatively poor and all the interesting things that make up the more advanced programming and electronics pursuits seem to be heavily based on math.
When I butt heads with these more advanced topics I find I resort to scouring the internet to cobble together pieces of various tutorials and guides. While it does feel good in a way to hack together limited understandings to make satisfactory solutions I’m beginning to feel less like a hacker and more like a hack. The knowledge I gain is shallow and I don’t think my tactics will get me much further.
Instead of working backwards from implementation I would like to start from the beginning and learn math the proper way. Unfortunately most of the resources I find online seem to more focused on teaching me how to solve math problems. I have no interest in solving specific math problems on a test, I’m not going to school and I doubt I will ever take a math test again in my life. I want to work up from first principles and gain the tools to reason about the world mathematically and understand the cool things that are currently out of my reach like antenna design, machine learning, electromagnetism, cryptography etc.
I’m a student. As a student, my school is one of my favorite places to be: I enjoy learning and find almost all my teachers to be agreeable. I’m also a programmer and an advocate of free speech. In that role, my school holds a more dubious distinction: it’s the first place where my interests in computers and my rights were questioned.
Like many other school districts, #284 of Wayzata, Minnesota puts censorware between students and the Internet. This filter lets the school claim federal funding in exchange for blocking pornography. However, Wayzata chose to implement an unsavory policy of blocking not just porn, but anything and everything they feel is inappropriate in a school setting. Worse, I could not find out who makes the judgements about what should be considered inappropriate. It’s not stated in the school board policy that mandates the filter: that police say that the filter should “only block porn, hate speech, and harassment.” Our censorware, however, blocks material ranging from Twitter to comic books. Meanwhile, students are told to use Twitter as part of our Spanish classes and our school offers a course on comic books. Beyond blocking sites that are used in classes, there are also many false positives.
I started trying to get around the content filtering system in 7th grade, halfway through middle school. I used the old trick of accessing blocked sites by looking up their IPs, then using those in place of their domain names. Back then, the censoring layer was something like a regex matcher strapped onto an HTTP proxy–in other words, all the data was routed through software that simply looked for certain domain names or terms in the URL, then blocked those requests. When the school upgraded their filter to a different product, I was stuck on the censored net again for a few months. By eighth grade, I had taught myself to code in C++, an “actual programming language” more powerful than the basic web scripting languages I’d known up until that point. Although I still wasn’t able to get past the new censorship with my relatively rudimentary knowledge, I did get introduced to the software tools that could – Linux, SSL, and SOCKS5. With these, I was unaffected by all the bad Internet policy decisions made in the next two and a half years: the blocking of YouTube and Vimeo, rate-limiting on downloads, and an exponentially expanding list of addresses that are deemed to be too horrifying for students to view, such as XKCD, Wikipedia, news websites and anywhere else that, somewhere, contains a naughty word.
The Einstein Papers Project, the decades-long effort to compile and preserve the scientist’s professional work and personal writings, is today opening to the public as a free searchable database containing thousands of documents.
The launch of the Digital Einstein Papers includes more than 5,000 documents that span the first 44 years of Albert Einstein’s life. As the organizations collaborating on the project — the California Institute of Technology (the project’s home), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (which houses the Albert Einstein Archives) and Princeton University Press — work to sort through tens of thousands of articles and letters, the website will grow to one day feature what the publisher said may be the first free digital collection of a prominent scientist’s complete works.
“The best Einstein source is now available to everyone, everywhere through the web,” said John D. Norton, a University of Pittsburgh professor of history and philosophy of science who wrote his dissertation on the history of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. “This is a great moment for Einstein scholarship.”
Full-time students complete four-year degrees with an average of 134 credit hours, according to Complete College America, a nonprofit focused on boosting college-graduation rates. That is well over the minimum of 120 hours—or about 15 credits per semester—required by most undergraduate degree programs.
That, in turn, means many students don’t graduate after the typical four years, which can weigh on a school’s reputation and a student’s wallet. A report this past week from Complete College America called four-year graduation timelines a “myth,” noting that less than one-fifth of bachelor’s degree students at nonflagship campuses of public schools graduate on time, while just over one-third of those at schools’ flagship campuses do.
Now, about half of states cap or plan to limit the number of credit hours that public institutions can require for a bachelor’s degree. Others are charging students extra for taking classes over certain limits, while schools are trying to do a better job of alerting students when they could have trouble completing enough credits in their major to finish on time.
The notion of institutions adopting reforms in order to maintain stability—sometimes called “dynamic conservatism”—captures how U.S. public schools, especially in big cities have embraced new policies (e.g., charter schools, Common Core standards, new technologies) signaling stakeholders that schools are, indeed, changing. Yet those districts and schools have left untouched essential structures that make U.S. schools the way they are (and have been for over a century) such as residential segregation, school revenue derived from property assessment, age-graded schools, self-contained classrooms, student promotion, and retention, textbooks, and state tests. [ii]
Without attending to these basic structures, entrepreneurial donors in their pursuit of particular reforms reinforce the stability of the very organizations they want to transform. Not intended to be Machiavellian or even necessarily planned, school districts have learned to maintain overall stability in structures, cultures, and practices—the status quo–in the face of strong external pressures by selectively adopting reforms.
Consider the example of grant-giving strengthening the status quo that occurred in the early 20th century when Northern white donors gave money to improve what was then called “colored” or “Negro” education in the South. John D. Rockefeller, Julius Rosenwald, and others gave grants to improve black education by building schools, helping teachers gain more knowledge and learn pedagogy, and raising teacher salaries. In aiding black communities improve schooling for their children, however, these donors gave the money directly to white school boards who then dispersed funds sparingly to black principals, teachers, and communities. In effect, these grants maintained the Jim Crow system of separate schooling for blacks and whites. Positive, negative, and perverse outcomes were rolled into one. [iii]
A new year of indoctrination started this week in Turkey. Not only of Kurdish children, who will be forced once again to learn a curriculum that excludes them in a language that is not their mother tongue, but also of Turkish children, who are made to believe that there is no diversity in their country.
Police violence at the stairs of the Kurdish language school in Diyarbakir
Police violence at the stairs of the Kurdish language school in Diyarbakir
It’s interesting that the education debate mostly revolves around the language in which instruction is given. The Kurdish movement wants education in the mother tongue, and this school year three such schools stared as a ‘pilot project’ in Cizre, Yüksekova and Diyarbakir. Governors however closed the schools, there was police violence to prevent the schools from opening again – read an extensive article on the matter here (by me). The ultimate goal of the Kurdish movement is to have not only private schools providing education in Kurdish, but state schools too. There’s a long way to go, since the constitution needs to be changed for that.
“Love their Union” came through loud and clear as MTI-represented District employees in all five (5) MTI bargaining units voted overwhelmingly to recertify MTI as their Union. The teacher unit voted 2,624 to recertify (88% of the eligible voters), while the educational assistant unit (EA-MTI) voted 549 (77%); the clerical/technical unit (SEE-MTI) voted 180 (77%); the substitute teacher unit (USO-MTI) voted 359 (73.5%); and the security assistant unit (SSA-MTI) voted 22 (81.5%). In all, 85.35% of the eligible MTI voters voted in the recertification election. MTI has not been challenged since it became the bargaining agent for teachers in 1964. Since its creation, MTI has grown from 900 to 4,700 members, and has gained the reputation as one of the most successful public sector Unions in the country. It is Governor Walker’s Act 10 that forced the vote this year. MTI had to pay fees of $3,550 to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission to conduct the election. Additional costs were experienced for educational and promotional materials related to the election which, under Act 10, must be conducted annually.
The large turnout is a testament to MTI members’ appreciation and support of their Union, and to the hard work of the over 200 MTI Member Organizers who reached out to engage their colleagues in conversations about their Union. MTI members clearly understand that students & staff will be better served if we continue to “Stand Together.” Thanks to all who made their voice heard by voting.
Essay was a much-dreaded word among my students. It was the fall of 2011, and I was teaching English at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea. Two hundred and seventy young men, and about 30 teachers, all Christian evangelicals besides me, were isolated together in a guarded compound, where our classes and movements were watched round the clock. Each lesson had to be approved by a group of North Korean staff known to us as the “counterparts.” Hoping to slip in information about the outside world, which we were not allowed to discuss, I had devised a lesson on essay writing, and it had been approved.
I had told my students that the essay would be as important as the final exam in calculating their grades for the semester, and they were very stressed. Each student was supposed to come up with his own topic and hand in a thesis and outline. When I asked them how it was going, they would sigh and say, “Disaster.”
I emphasized the importance of essays since, as scientists, they would one day have to write papers to prove their theories. But in reality, nothing was ever proven in their world, since everything was at the whim of the Great Leader. Their writing skills were as stunted as their research skills. Writing inevitably consisted of an endless repetition of his achievements, none of which was ever verified, since they lacked the concept of backing up a claim with evidence. A quick look at the articles in the daily newspaper revealed the exact same tone from start to finish, with neither progression nor pacing. There was no beginning and no end.
This fall, 305 local union organizations representing public school teachers, support staff, and custodial workers held recertification elections in school districts across the state. Despite everything that Walker has done to undermine them, more than 90 percent of the local unions were recertified. Indeed, according to the Wisconsin Education Association Council, 97 percent of its units that sought recertification won their elections.
The numbers are even more overwhelming for American Federation of Teachers union locals in Wisconsin.
“Since recertification elections began in 2011, every AFT-Wisconsin local union that has pursued recertification has won convincingly,” notes Kim Kohlhaas, an elementary school teacher in the Superior School District who serves as president of AFT-Wisconsin.
In many school districts, the numbers were overwhelming.
In Madison, where the Madison Teachers Inc. union has played a leading role in opposing Walker’s anti-labor agenda, the pro-recertification votes have been overwhelming.
According to vote totals released by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, Madison teachers gave 88 percent support to recertification, as did 81 percent of security staff, 77 percent of support staff, 76 percent of educational assistants and 74 percent of substitute teachers.
Notably, Walker won just 52 percent of the vote in his recent re-election run. So, if the governor claims any sort of mandate, he ought to accept that MTI has a much bigger mandate.
Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.
A nationwide exit poll on Election Day revealed that 70 percent viewed the economy as “not so good” or “poor.” Only 22 percent thought life for the next generation would be better than for this one.
Second, because those with the most education are doing better (and Madison is jammed with academic elites) we are not seen as suffering as they do, and that is noticed and resented.
Third, they see school teachers and other public employees with a level of retirement and health insurance benefits they no longer enjoy or ever did. (Among public workers, only cops and firefighters seem to get a pass for being comparatively well-compensated.)
Fourth, they are constantly told that government programs are distorted to help those who do not help themselves. Given the concentrations of minorities in the two largest cities, the racial subtext is always there. Many in outlying Wisconsin see themselves as distinctively hard-working and self-reliant and getting no government help. They do not perceive their own public education, Medicare, Social Security, highway infrastructure and so forth as the sorts of “handouts” they think flow to others.
This thesis is supported by the election results for governor, where Walker won in rural areas, small towns and suburbs, and Democrat Mary Burke mostly dominated in the dependable urban centers of Madison and Milwaukee.
The American middle class has absorbed a steep increase in the cost of health care and other necessities as incomes have stagnated over the past half decade, a squeeze that has forced families to cut back spending on everything from clothing to restaurants.
Health-care spending by middle-income Americans rose 24% between 2007 and 2013, driven by an even larger rise in the cost of buying health insurance, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of detailed consumer-spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That hit has been accompanied by increases in spending on other necessities, including food eaten at home, rent and education, as well as the soaring cost of staying connected digitally via cellphones and home Internet service.
With income growth sluggish, discretionary spending on things like clothing and movies, live shows and amusement parks has given way.
It is a persistent undercurrent in English educational debate, but it is peculiarly English: should academic selection at the age of 11 be restored?
Boris Johnson, perhaps in response to perceived UKIP pressure, has declared himself in favour of more grammar schools, and Teresa May, more cautiously, has welcomed plans for a satellite grammar school in her constituency of Maidenhead. In Kent, the Weald of Kent grammar school is preparing a new proposal to establish what is either (depending on your view) a new grammar school in Sevenoaks or a satellite site in Sevenoaks.
The arguments for restoring grammar schools are couched in terms of opportunity and social mobility: Boris Johnson called them mobilisers of opportunity. But the evidence to support this is almost non-existent.
There remain 164 grammar schools in England, and their socio-economic make up does not support the proposition that they turbo-charge social mobility: in all areas where there are grammar schools, the proportion of pupils on free school meals (FSM) is significantly lower in the grammar schools than in the area as a whole (1).
There’s little evidence to suggest that grammar schools work in the way their proponents suggest: research by Professor Ruth Lupton found that grammar schools work well for those who attend them, but few FSM pupils succeed in doing so. Moreover, the OECD international evidence (2) is clear that early selection is associated with lower performance, particularly from more deprived social groups.
More fundamentally, the argument for grammar school depends on four assumptions all being true. The first assumption is that a test for academic ability at age 11 can be reliable; that is, that a test at age 11 will reliably discriminate between those who are academically able and those who are not.
When it comes to how fast teachers can climb the salary ladder, Milwaukee Public Schools is a better than average place to work, according to a new report that studies the nuances of teacher compensation in more than 100 large districts.
After adjusting for cost-of-living, the report ranked Milwaukee 16th among the big-city districts studied, based on teachers’ likely lifetime earnings and the number of years it would take them to reach a salary of $75,000.
But a recent adjustment to the MPS salary schedule — not captured by the report, which is based on 2013-’14 figures — would likely drop the district lower on the list.
The report, “Smart Money: What Teachers Make, How Long It Takes And What It Buys Them,” was released Wednesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington, D.C., think tank. It reviewed 2013-’14 teacher salary schedules for 113 school districts.
The report concludes that most school districts need to rethink their compensation systems, because offering traditional salary schedules with no way for educators to accelerate their earnings may be a hindrance to attracting and keeping high-quality talent.
OK, slight exaggeration. But with applications in free fall, schools are locked in a brutal competition to attract students who might theoretically one day be qualified to sit for a bar exam. And that, the New York Times reports today, has meant slashing tuition and dolling out discounts. At Northwestern University School of Law, one of the top ranked institutions in the country, “74 percent of first-year students this academic year received financial aid, compared with only 30 percent in 2009,” the paper notes. The University of Iowa, University of Arizona, and Penn State University have cut their prices. J.D.s are on sale!
That said, much like actual Black Friday merchandise, law degrees are being marked down from insanely high starting points. At Northwestern, the sticker price for tuition is about $56,000, to start.
But anyway, while I could choose this moment to revive my argument with Above the Law about whether it’s a good idea to go to law school (I’ve argued it is), there’s a different point I want to dwell on today. It seems fairly obvious that some law schools are going to have to close in the not too distant future. Between the fall of 2010 and fall of 2013, enrollments dropped 24 percent. This year’s crop of new students should be even smaller. And while schools are doing everything in their power to pare back expenses and prop up their head counts, it seems like someone is going to fall victim to a collapsing demand. “I don’t get how the math adds up for the number of schools and the number of students,” Northwestern Dean Daniel Rodriguez, told the Times. That’s because it probably won’t.
The speakers at TED conferences give the type of presentations that public speaking coaches use as examples of effective presentation skills. They open with arresting images or stories that engage the audience, speak clearly and passionately, and illustrate each of their points with concise evidence or examples.
TED Talks are also slick productions. The lighting is as well done as a rock concert’s, cameras film from a variety of angles to keep viewers visually engaged, and the length is never so long as to drain an audience’s attention span.
At the end of a TED talk, this author often feels inspired and enlightened, patting himself on the back for spending 10 minutes improving his mind instead of watching sitcom reruns. But according to a study performed by a group of psychologists, the degree to which a TED audience feels newly educated may be partly illusory – the result of showmanship as much as actual learning.
In their study “Appearances Can Be Deceiving,” a team of psychologists had students watch recorded lectures explaining why Calico cats are almost always female. (It’s essentially a genetics lesson, as the answer has to do with how the calico fur pattern is linked to X chromosomes.) One group saw a lecturer who presented with the skills of a TED speaker. The other watched the lecturer read haltingly from notes.
Fewer teacher candidates are expected to pass the state’s revamped assessment of teaching practice, under new cut scores approved by the state board on Tuesday. But the new test will be short-lived: Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) officials plan to scrap the test altogether when yet another, more comprehensive assessment comes fully online next September. Previously, 97 percent of teacher candidates who took one of the older versions of the Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT) would pass. The rate is expected to drop to 81 percent using the new APT, which was rolled out this fall.
Raising concerns about fairness to teacher candidates, board member Vinni Hall cast the lone vote against the new cut scores for the revamped APT.
“I just thought this was a little disingenuous knowing we were going to eliminate the test eventually,” Hall said after voting on Tuesday during a special board meeting.
Jason Helfer, ISBE’s assistant superintendent for Teacher and Leader Effectiveness, said there was little anybody could do about the short lifespan of the revamped APT – which is taken by prospective teachers during the student teaching phase of their coursework.
School choice proponents, many from out of state, funneled $64,000 directly into candidates’ coffers in 2014, through AFC and another group. (The AFC-affiliated funder, Wisconsin Federation for Children Political Fund, filed its last report Nov. 26, a month late, risking a penalty of up to $500. Its Washington, D.C.-based administrator did not respond to an emailed question about the late filing.)
In addition, AFC made independent expenditures of $866,000 to boost or oppose candidates. This adds to the nearly $10 million in state electoral spending by school choice proponents between 2003 and 2012, as tallied by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
AFC’s spending in the Nov. 4 elections included $148,000 to help narrowly defeat Democrat Rep. Mandy Wright, a former teacher and school choice critic. It spent $123,000 to help Republican Todd Novak score a razor-thin win over Democrat Dick Cates. And it poured $240,000 into GOP choice proponent Howard Marklein’s successful bid for an open Senate seat.
Jensen is proud of these victories, which he says give it “a school choice majority in both houses.” He attributes this success to public support for school choice.
Yet, in its electioneering, AFC commonly doesn’t even mention school choice. It attacked Wright for allegedly using sick leave to attend a protest, which she insists is not true. It went after Cates for his vote on the local school board concerning the Pledge of Allegiance. And it ripped Democratic Rep. Gordon Hintz for threatening a female colleague and being cited in a massage parlor sting operation, both in 2011.
Since its birth, the US has always defined itself as a egalitarian meritocracy, fundamentally distinct from the class-ridden societies of Europe.
And at times, this has even been true. On the eve of the American Revolution, the income distribution of American colonists was far more equal than those of the mother country. “Indeed, New England and the Middle Colonies appear to have been more egalitarian than anywhere else in the measurable world,” wrote economic historians in a 2012 paper. (To be clear, it’s difficult to consider a slave-holding society egalitarian at all. It was brutally unequal. But from an income distribution perspective, American colonists—meaning white men—were better off than their counterparts in Europe.)
Americans increasingly have to dig into their own pockets to pay for medical care, a shift that is helping to curb the growth in health spending by employers and the government.
The trend is being accelerated by the Affordable Care Act because many private plans sold by the law’s health exchanges come with hefty out-of-pocket costs, which prompt some people to delay or put off seeking care.
For the exchanges’ 2015 policies, which went on sale last month, “bronze- level” plans have an average deductible of $5,181 for individuals, up from $5,081 in 2014, according to a November report from HealthPocket, which publishes health insurance market analyses. Bronze plans generally cover 60% of consumers’ medical expenses.
While surveys show steeper out-of-pocket costs lead some people to defer even routine medical care, economists say the trend brings an important upside: It is helping fuel a period of historically low growth in health-care spending, which eases the federal deficit.
The federal government said Wednesday that 2013 was the fifth consecutive year in which health spending grew at less than 4%. The 3.6% rate is the lowest since the government began tracking such spending in the 1960s. While economists initially credited the recession for the soft spending growth, the trend continued even as the economy improved.
Brianne Bolin thought her master’s degree in English would guarantee her at least a steady income. But like hundreds of thousands of others with advanced educations, she barely makes enough to feed herself and her son. Alissa Quart reports on a growing segment of Americans: the hypereducated poor.
Professor Bolin, or Brianne, as she tells her students to call her, might as well be invisible. When I arrive at the building at Columbia College in Chicago where she teaches composition, I ask the assistant at the front desk how to locate her. “Bolin?” she asks, sounding puzzled, as she scans the faculty list. “I’m sorry, I don’t see that name.” There is no Brianne Bolin to be found, even though she’s taught four classes a year here for the past five years. She doesn’t have a phone extension to her name, never mind an office.
The mother of a disabled eight-year-old boy named Finn, Bolin rushes in late to the lobby—she’d offered to give me a tour of her workplace. Her red hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and red electrical tape is wrapped around the left temple of her black geek-chic glasses; they broke a few months ago, and she can’t afford a new pair. Bolin dressed up for the occasion: a black vest (from a thrift store, she’ll tell me later), jeans (also thrift), and a brass anatomical version of a heart dangling at her throat from a thin black string. This is a rare and coveted evening off for her—Finn’s father’s fiancé agreed to babysit—but so far she’s too agitated to enjoy it. She just learned that the woman and Finn’s father, a blacksmith, are getting married in a few weeks, and they won’t be able to take care of the boy during that time. It’s all on her, again.
In 2012, P.J. Gunsagar and Dylan Arena founded Kidaptive and released their first iPad app, Leo’s Pad. It stars Leo, a young inventor with a treehouse laboratory, and combines segments of animated story with a variety of mini-games. It’s been downloaded over 800,000 times, with an App Store rating hovering near five stars. Kids love it.
But there is science hiding behind the fun: A tool, built on cutting-edge research in developmental psychology, that closely tracks the cognitive progress of its young users and adjusts the app’s difficulty accordingly. It’s a toy, but it’s one that gathers a tremendous amount of data on how it’s being used.
Now, Gunsagar and Arena want to put that data to use to help parents. Kidaptive’s new free app, Learner Mosaic, serves up ideas for backseat games and dinner table discussion topics that reinforce the skills being learned in the Leo’s Pad app. It takes the latest understanding of what kids ages five and younger should be learning, dices it into activities that are manageable for overworked parents, and surfaces those activities at just the right time in a kid’s development. The vision, as Gunsagar puts it, is to put a really smart preschool teacher in every parent’s pocket.
But there’s something deeper, too. The familiar bash brothers of globalization and technology (particularly information technology) have conspired to gut middle-class jobs by sending work abroad or replacing it with automation and software. A 2013 study by David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon Hanson found that although the computerization of certain tasks hasn’t reduced employment, it has reduced the number of decent-paying, routine-heavy jobs. Cheaper jobs have replaced them, and overall pay has declined.
Your second question might be: Why have health-care wages been the exception to the rule? One answer is that health care is, generally speaking, the exception to many rules. Demand for medical services is dominated by the government (i.e. Medicare, Medicaid, and the employer insurance tax break), which doesn’t face the same vertiginous up-and-downs as the rest of the economy. So as the Great Recession steamrolled many industries, health care, propped up by sturdy government spending, kept adding workers. What’s more, computerization and information technology have yet to work their magical price-cutting power in health care as they have in other industries, for a variety of reasons. Americans are spending four percent less on food away from home than in 2007; but we’re spending 42 percent more on health insurance. As prices have increased, so have wages for younger workers in the medical field. (Update: Some readers have made the smart suggestion that money which might have gone to higher salaries has instead gone to paying higher health insurance costs.)
The vast majority of students at American public colleges do not graduate on time, according to a new report from Complete College America, a nonprofit group based in Indianapolis.
“Students and parents know that time is money,” said the report, called “Four-Year Myth.” “The reality is that our system of higher education costs too much, takes too long and graduates too few.”
At most public universities, only 19 percent of full-time students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years, the report found. Even at state flagship universities — selective, research-intensive institutions — only 36 percent of full-time students complete their bachelor’s degree on time.
Nationwide, only 50 of more than 580 public four-year institutions graduate a majority of their full-time students on time. Some of the causes of slow student progress, the report said, are inability to register for required courses, credits lost in transfer and remediation sequences that do not work. The report also said some students take too few credits per semester to finish on time. The problem is even worse at community colleges, where 5 percent of full-time students earned an associate degree within two years, and 15.9 percent earned a one- to two-year certificate on time.
Financial Status of All NEA State Affiliates. In-depth analysis will follow in the weeks to come, but for now here is the table containing total membership, total revenues, surplus or deficit status and net assets for all 52 National Education Association “state” affiliates for 2012-13
Related: $1.57M for four State Senators.
As one of the few black male reporters at The Journal, I’ve had experiences over the years that are unknown among my white colleagues, though anything but unique among other black men. We’ve all had our encounters; we’ve all been in situations where being black becomes synonymous with being suspicious, where demanding rights and respectful treatment can be seen as resisting law enforcement.
So after the grand jury’s decision on Monday not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., I found myself thinking back on episodes in my own life. My first thought was: What’s the difference between a 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound, black 17-year-old and a 40ish, 5-foot-6-inch black man? Depending on the circumstances, I knew, not much.
It was the late 1970s, and I was that large, 17-year-old, high-school kid—getting good grades and college-bound. I was walking home from Bowlero, a bowling alley in Alexandria, La., on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I was carrying my bowling bag, complete with a 16-pound ball, shoes and a towel.
Turkey has seen a sharp rise in religious schooling under reforms that President Tayyip Erdogan casts as a defense against moral decay, but which opponents see as an unwanted drive to shape a more Islamic nation.
Almost a million students are enrolled in “imam hatip” schools this year, up from just 65,000 in 2002 when Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party first came to power, he told the opening of one of the schools in Ankara last month.
The schools teach boys and girls separately, and give around 13 hours a week of Islamic instruction on top of the regular curriculum, including study of Arabic, the Koran and the life of the Prophet Mohammad.
“When there is no such thing as religious culture and moral education, serious social problems such as drug addiction and racism fill the gap,” Erdogan told a symposium on drug policy and public health earlier this year.
Efforts to prepare students for college, careers, and civic engagement have traditionally emphasized academic skills, but a growing body of research suggests that interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies, such as communication and resilience, are important predictors of postsecondary success and citizenship. One of the major challenges in designing educational interventions to support these outcomes is a lack of high-quality measures that could help educators, students, parents, and others understand how students perform and monitor their development over time. This report provides guidelines to promote thoughtful development of practical, high-quality measures of interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies that practitioners and policymakers can use to improve valued outcomes for students.
What research and development is needed to create high-quality measures of students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies?
Which competencies should be addressed first?
Which research and development goals should receive priority for the identified competencies?
How long will the research and development process take, and how much money needs to be committed to support the efforts?
How should the measurement-development process be managed?
When it comes to studying abroad, the U.S. is no longer THE place to go.
A new global migration report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation shows American universities are losing their supreme position in the global education system.
In 2000, nearly one in four students looking for education abroad picked a college in the U.S.
In 2012 — the latest year for which data is available — it was just 16%.
Although the U.S. still attracts the highest proportion of foreign students, other countries are becoming increasingly popular, biting into the U.S. market share.
All other English-speaking developed countries and Spain have increased their share of foreign students.
First, Hagel was lazy. This may seem harsh, but the Secretary did not adequately prepare for meetings. Not even close. The 4-5 page briefing papers that Gates devoured, or the two-page memos that satisfied Panetta’s intellectual cravings, were replaced by Hagel’s preferred briefing material: an index card with 25 words on it. Policy papers were still drafted, but Hagel’s inner circle repeatedly made it clear they would never be read. As one official said during a moment of frustration, “How can we prepare the secretary to speak on this complex issue with only a sentence fragment?” Hagel’s aversion to words was most noticeable during meetings with foreign counterparts and heads of state where his lack of preparation all but guaranteed that he would have little to contribute aside from pleasantries and small talk. After such engagements, foreign staffers often inquired why Hagel was angry or aloof — or even worse — had offended their president or minister by wasting their time. The standard response, “The secretary is not feeling well,” seldom proved adequate. Hagel didn’t just waste everyone’s time, he routinely missed opportunities to advance U.S. policy by learning how our partners viewed complex issues. He also failed to develop important personal relationships that might prove critical when serious problems emerged.
“We, the Committee of Public Safety, find Jean Valjean guilty. The sentence is death by guillotine!”
Molly McPherson, a redhead with glasses, is dressed in a blue bathrobe — in costume as Robespierre. Her seventh-graders are re-enacting the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, with a little assist from Les Miserables.
But after they write down their verdicts, she asks them to reconsider — they may not have heard the best evidence available, and may be relying on hearsay instead of primary sources.
“What does bias mean?” she asks.
“You single him out for the part he did wrong instead of looking at the part he did right,” responds one girl.
Decked out in black tie and formal dresses, guests at Mr. Jefferson’s Capital Ball finished their salmon with horseradish sauce just as the band lured them onto the dance floor with classics including “Shout” and “My Girl.” Some of the people who paid up to $400 a couple to attend the event in the Grand Ballroom of the historic Mayflower Hotel joined in the Electric Slide.
The ball was more than just another Friday night party to ease Washington into the weekend. It had the commendable purpose of raising money for scholarships to the University of Virginia.
But not the kind of scholarships that go to low-income students based solely on their financial need. The proceeds from Mr. Jefferson’s Capital Ball are destined for merit aid for applicants who have the high grade-point averages and top scores on entrance tests that help institutions do well on college rankings. Merit aid can also attract middle- and upper-income students whose families can pay the rest of the tuition bill and therefore furnish badly needed revenue to colleges and universities.
As institutions vie for income and prestige in this way, the net prices they’re charging the lowest-income students, after discounts and financial aid, continue to rise faster on average than the net prices they’re charging higher-income ones, according to an analysis of newly released data the universities and colleges are required to report to the U.S. Department of Education.
They don’t, however, represent the true odds of a well-qualified student’s being admitted to a top school. That’s because anyone can apply to college, well qualified or otherwise. Selective colleges immediately toss the long shots and dreamers from the admissions pile in order to concentrate on students with a legitimate shot at getting in. But they don’t parse their admissions statistics that way, in part because it’s in their best interests to seem as selective as possible. Admission rates are among the most closely watched barometers of institutional prestige. The fact that Stanford’s rate beat Harvard’s for the last two years has been cited as prime evidence that Palo Alto may be eclipsing Cambridge in higher-education glory.
Institutional admission rates also don’t account for the number of applications submitted per student. Enabled by technology that makes it easier to copy and send electronic documents and driven by the competitive anxiety that plummeting admission rates produce, top students have been sending out more applications. In May, for example, a Long Island high school senior named Kwasi Enin was briefly famous for having applied to, and been accepted by, all eight Ivy League schools.
The supplies are rolling in. At 1 p.m. on a Thursday, three delivery trucks line College Avenue. Around the corner, five more clog East Clayton Street. In downtown Athens, the center lane belongs to those who bring the booze.
Out come the boxes. Budweiser and Blue Moon, Bacardi Gold and Southern Comfort, Red Bull and rainbows of mixers. Stacked high on dollies, the goods are wheeled into bar after bar, each catering to students at the University of Georgia, where the iconic iron Arch stands within sight. Cutters Pub, On the Rocks, the Whiskey Bent. The blocks just beyond campus boast dozens of bars that own the late-night hours, when undergrads press themselves into crowds fueled by Fireball shots and beer as cheap as candy.
Athens, home to the flagship university and some 120,000 people, could be almost anywhere. This college town, like many others, celebrates touchdowns, serves early-morning cheeseburgers, and pours many flavors of vodka. When the sun goes down, some students get hammered, just as they do in Chapel Hill, Ann Arbor, and Eugene.
The November UC Regents meeting featured a battle of the paradigms between administrative and student accounts of student finances.
UC Office of the President (UCOP) officials, led by Executive Vice President Nathan Brostrom, sustained their longstanding claim that generous UC financial aid protects all low-income and most middle-income students from tuition costs. The Berkeley campus issued a statement citing the main talking point:
California students from families with annual incomes under $80,000 will continue to have tuition and fees fully covered by financial aid, and the vast majority of California students from families earning less than $150,000 a year will see no increase.
Upping the volume on this message, the immediate past chancellor of UC Berkeley, Robert Birgeneau, claimed that this high financial aid depends on high tuition, so that “frozen tuition means ever-increasing debt for low-income students.”
America is embroiled in an immigration debate that goes far beyond President Obama’s executive order on undocumented immigrants.
It goes to the heart of who “we” are. And it’s roiling communities across the nation.
In early November, school officials in Orinda, California, hired a private detective to determine whether a seven-year-old Latina named Vivian – whose single mother works as a live-in nanny for a family in Orinda — “resides” in the district and should therefore be allowed to attend the elementary school she’s already been attending there.
On the basis of that investigation they determined that Vivian’s legal residence is her grandmother’s home in Bay Point, California. They’ve given the seven-year-old until December 5th to leave the Orinda elementary school.
Never mind that Vivian and her mother live during the workweek at the Orinda home where Vivian’s mother is a nanny, that Vivian has her own bedroom in that home with her clothing and toys and even her own bathroom, that she and her mother stock their own shelves in the refrigerator and kitchen cupboard of that Orinda home, or that Vivian attends church with her mother in Orinda and takes gym and youth theater classes at the Orinda community center.
The point is Vivian is Latina and poor, and Orinda is white, Anglo, and wealthy.
And Orinda vigilantly protects itself from encroachments from the large and growing poor Latino and Hispanic populations living beyond its borders.
Madison has long supported wide demographic variation.
Go ahead and watch this jaw-dropping Choice Media interview with retired John F. Kennedy High School metal shop teacher Lee McNulty, Save Jerseyans, and then reflect upon the fact that New Jersey taxpayers are spending, on average, $20,454 per K-12 student in Paterson this year.
The National Education Association just filed its 2013-2014 LM-2 filing with the U.S. Department of Labor, and once again, it spent big to preserve its declining influence over education policymaking. The nation’s largest teachers’ unions spent $132 million on lobbying and contributions to what are supposed to be like-minded organizations, a slight increase over the $131 million poured into such activities last year. This, by the way, doesn’t include another $45 million spent on so-called representational activities which are almost always political in nature.
This past fiscal year, NEA poured plenty of money into Democracy Alliance, the secretive progressive group that played a big role in trying to elect Democratic candidates to national and state offices this year. As Dropout Nation reported earlier this month, NEA and AFT have worked hard to pull Democracy Alliance into its fold; this includes NEA Executive Director John Stocks, a longtime player on the organization’s board, becoming its chairman. NEA poured $160,000 to the main organization itself, along with $250,000 into its Latino Engagement Action Fund, $150,000 into its Youth Engagement Fund, and $50,000 into its Committee on States. Altogether, NEA has devoted $610,000 to Democracy Alliance and its main affiliate organizations. Things didn’t work out so well this past Election Day for either Democracy Alliance or NEA; but that won’t stop either from spending plenty this next election cycle.
Helicopter parenting may be ruining the American marriage, but the same cannot be said for France. The French state simply does not allow hovering mamans and papas hooked on the US-driven religion of parenting—and America would do well to follow suit.
In the French schoolroom, moms and dads are sensibly kept at an arm’s length, dropping their little treasures at the door as early as 8:20am and only returning at 4:30pm or later to pick them up. Open-door policies do not exist and teachers work without the incessant parental input common in the US. Hours spent chatting every afternoon with overbearing moms is not part of the job description.
It obviously wouldn’t be ethical to test for the effects of a whole childhood spent in front of screens on children. A few years ago, researchers came up with perhaps the next best thing. Affixing colorful lights and speakers broadcasting Cartoon Network sounds to mouse cages, they subjected young mice to six hours of “television” for 42 days straight.
Seattle Children’s Research Institute director and pediatrician Dimitri Christakis presented the spooky results at a TEDx Talk in Washington: In an observation box, the control mice traveled along the perimeter—your standard, cautious, don’t-get-caught-in-the-open mouse behavior, while the media-binge rodents scurried all around and every which way. They’d turned into hyperactive risk-takers.
Upon his re-election in 2006, then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein offered the free use of underutilized school facilities to a bumper crop of charter schools opening that year—including my first. Fueled by this policy, charter-school enrollment in the city grew from 11,000 to almost 70,000 by the end of Mr. Bloomberg’s second term in 2013, and my one school grew to 22.
As the founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools—free public schools open to all children in New York City through a random lottery—I’ve seen firsthand how allowing “co-location” with district schools has helped charter schools and their students thrive. Success Academy currently has 32 schools spread across the Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens boroughs and recently was granted approval from our chartering authority, the State University of New York, to open 14 more.
When Daishon Boyd hit another kid outside the South Madison Capital Hill Apartments, a neighbor called the police. Who started the clash or threw the first blow isn’t clear, but when a town of Madison police officer attempted to slap a disorderly conduct/battery ticket on Daishon, his father, Jamada Norris, was incensed. It had been a year since a friend of Daishon’s mother had dropped off the boy and his older brother, Malique, saying merely that she didn’t want them anymore, and raising African American sons as a single, low-income dad was tough. His plan was to get them educated while protecting them from the allure of street life, a culture in which he’d been embedded as a child in California, but he hadn’t counted on protecting them from the police. Certainly not now. Daishon was only four.
Norris recalls Daishon’s behavior that day as nothing outside the norm. It’s the type of behavior we’re all subjected to when there’s a frustrated toddler on the loose—crying, screaming, kicking and the occasional whack at the perpetrator. According to Norris, that’s all it was. So when the officer validated the report with an attempted arrest, Norris’s natural response was to protect his young son.
“The police officer said there was a law that if he’s called to the site, he has to take someone to jail,” says Norris. “The officers were about to grab Daishon when I pulled him back and said, ‘You’re not taking my son.’ I got loud with him so they were going to arrest both of us, until the neighbors came forward, outraged. They backed down.”
Unfortunately, the story of Daishon’s early brush with the law is not uncommon. We just don’t think of collecting statistics on toddlers who’ve been arrested or come dangerously close to it. All that comes later.
BAKING everyday might sound fun, particularly at this time of year. But for one recent graduate of the University of Georgia, working in a cake shop for six months quickly turned from sweet to sickly. At her birthday party recently she warned sweet-toothed friends that she just couldn’t face another black forest gateau.
This was not the career she had in mind when she pursued a degree in linguistics, but getting a good job in the South is tough if you’re young. A new report from MDC, a non-profit based in Durham, says that more than 30% of those under 25 in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Carolina are “underemployed”: they are either looking for a job, settling for part-time work or giving up on the search entirely. This is quite a bit higher than the overall underemployment rate in those states, which is less than 15%. This makes it hard to secure a return on the cost of tuition, particularly as the price of a degree continues to rise. Tuition costs at public universities in Louisiana, Georgia and Florida, for example, have risen by 50% since fiscal year 2008.
Why are young people having such a tough time in the labour market? Part of the problem is competition. Many Southern cities, with their low cost of living, cheap property prices and good weather, attract graduates from across America, and there aren’t enough jobs to employ them all. Houston saw a 50% increase in graduates aged between 25 to 34 in the 12 years since 2000; Nashville saw a 48% leap. Newcomers clash over the available jobs, and residents with inferior credentials are easily displaced. Those who fail to become knowledge workers often end up shunted into the growing service sector, doing the kind of jobs (serve coffee, fix up houses) that techie types are too busy to do for themselves. “Talent recruitment is not balanced against talent development in the South,” says David Dodson, president of MDC. “It’s almost like a colonial economy, because the benefits accrue to those that come from someplace else.”
The Internet is bringing an end to snow days for some Indiana schoolchildren.
Northwestern Consolidated Schools in Shelby County is among 29 public school systems and eight private schools that have received approval from the Indiana Department of Education to use a virtual learning option on days when students have to stay home from school due to inclement weather.
On those days, Northwestern students at Triton Central, Triton Middle and Triton Elementary schools will use their school-issued iPads and Chromebooks to do their homework, work through lessons and communicate with their teachers.
Southern Hancock County schools in New Palestine, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School and Hasten Hebrew Academy of Indianapolis are among other Central Indiana schools approved to use a similar approach, state officials said.
The idea gained traction last year when record snow fall caused many schools to lose several days of instruction, forcing them to shorten spring break to make up the difference. Indiana requires each school to provide 180 days of instruction each school year.
In August, Quebec Justice Valmont Beaulieu stated the obvious when he addressed the double standard in the treatment of teachers who have sex with students: “The sexual exploitation of a male adolescent by a female teacher must be punished just the same as a male posing the same actions toward a female adolescent,” he said before sentencing Tania Pontbriand to 20- and 18-month jail terms to be served concurrently, plus two years probation. The former high school gym teacher from Rosemère, Que., had been found guilty of sexual exploitation and sexual assault of a male student with whom she had a two-year relationship.
The trial made headlines internationally. Its details, by turns tawdry and disturbing, revealed how the then 30-year-old Pontbriand acted as mentor, conﬁdante and sexual aggressor to the 15-year-old. She gained the trust of the teenager, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, when they exchanged intimate details during a 2002 school cycling trip. He described the pain he felt after his parents’ divorce; she told him her marriage was a mistake. When the student returned home, he told his mother he had a “new best friend.” Pontbriand initiated sex with the boy soon after on a private trip approved by his mother to help him with his problems; it was the ﬁrst of some 300 sexual liaisons that took place on school trips, private getaways, at his home and her home. The teacher bought the boy a cellphone after his mother tried to shut down communication between the two. Evidence shown to the court included coded messages left in the student’s locker and gifts such as the engraved dog tags the teacher gave the student after their ﬁrst sexual encounter: “BFF. Best Friends Forever. 19-05-02.”
In a written statement, the student stated that Pontbriand ended it after he entered CEGEP, saying she’d met someone new. He went to police in 2007 after being expelled; later he claimed the relationship left him depressed and suicidal. The victim, now in his 20s, said a psychiatrist helped him understand he’d missed out on normal dating rituals. Pontbriand, now a mother of two, alienated him from family and friends, he said, “so as to satisfy her own egotistic and sexual desires. I was far too naive at the time to recognize her lies and manipulation.” The judge agreed: “The court is convinced that the accused used the victim to satisfy her own sexual needs, thus exploiting the victim’s naïveté, his lack of maturity, his dependence and his trust.”
Ugly words – such as learning objectives, non-negotiables and targets – are meaningless to young pupils and put too much pressure on them too soon
What do you do when you get to school in the morning?” a colleague asked a younger member of my family recently. “Well, when we get to class, we get out our books and start on our non-negotiables,” replied the child, who is in year 2. “What are they?” the colleague inquired. “Don’t know” was the answer.
This is a perfect example of what is bothering me as a primary school teacher – educational jargon that is passed on to our children. At no point during my own education was I ever aware of non-negotiables, targets, levels, learning objectives or success criteria. But my teachers still taught me a great deal and it was pretty obvious that I was learning. Where I stood in the academic pecking order was the teacher’s business, not mine.
But the constant jargon that teachers are forced to use is rubbing off on our students. Not only is this meaningless for them but it’s increasingly making their academic performance their responsibility too. Do primary school children really need that kind of pressure when they’re so young?
Despite my objections, this year I prepared a group of year 6 children to have a go at the Sats level 6 papers. Level 6 is designed for children aged 14, but these students were very secure at level 5. One girl in particular found this process really difficult and, when I found her in tears after a practice test, it was clear from our conversation that however much I tried to explain that level 6 was miles ahead of where she was supposed to be, it hadn’t really sunk in.
If the University of California hikes its fees, defying the governor’s tuition freeze, students won’t be the only ones footing the bill. Taxpayers would likely end up paying an extra $45 million next year alone, and at least $250 million more annually by 2019 — for their share of the rising costs.
As tuition soars, so does taxpayer-funded financial aid, becoming a larger — though often-overlooked — piece of the UC funding picture. Each time the state cut the university’s budget during the Great Recession, UC hiked tuition, and the state, in turn, gave ever-greater sums of tuition grants to help low-income students pay for their UC educations. UC itself last year granted students $775 million out of its own funds.
Fifty-five percent of in-state undergraduates have all of their tuition covered through a combination of state, federal and university grants; another 14 percent receive some subsidy. Just 31 percent pay the full price, $12,192 this year.
The fourth time a Poughkeepsie police officer told me that my Vassar College Faculty ID could make everything OK was three years ago. I was driving down Hooker Avenue. When the white police officer, whose head was way too small for his neck, asked if my truck was stolen, I laughed, said no, and shamefully showed him my license and my ID, just like Lanre Akinsiku. The ID, which ensures that I can spend the rest of my life in a lush state park with fat fearless squirrels, surrounded by enlightened white folks who love talking about Jon Stewart, Obama, and civility, has been washed so many times it doesn’t lie flat.
After taking my license and ID back to his car, the police officer came to me with a ticket and two lessons. “Looks like you got a good thing going on over there at Vassar College,” he said. “You don’t wanna it ruin it by rolling through stop signs, do you?”
I sucked my teeth, shook my head, kept my right hand visibly on my right thigh, rolled my window up, and headed back to campus.
One more ticket.
Two more condescending lessons from a lame armed with white racial supremacy, anti-blackness, a gun, and a badge. But at least I didn’t get arrested.